Barnum Effect

I trust my self-hosted blog to do better note-keeping than Twitter or Facebook. Hence reproducing this FB post by Navin Kabra here.


All of you—people who follow me on Facebook—are not average people. By the fact that you’re drawn to my posts, you automatically have self-selected. Using the Facebook API and some text processing, I did some analysis, and here are the key characteristics that I believe would describe you:

• You have a great need for other people to like and admire you.
• You have a tendency to be critical of yourself.
• You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage.
• While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them.
• Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside.
• At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing.
• You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations.
• You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof.
• You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others.
• At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved.
• Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic.
• Security is one of your major goals in life.

How closely does this set of statements describe you?


Answer that question before reading further

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UX: The Fallacy of Making Things Faster!

I never received formal training in design and as I started to build web products in 2012, it was a learning curve. Certain ideologies on what I like about different products guided me. There is of course a lot of design lingo that I picked up over the years. Yes, the usual suspects like “CTA”, “Above the fold”, “How many clicks does it take…” etc etc.

However, good design isn’t a factor of learning jargons or spending money on expensive consultants. I have seen some hyper funded products with poor experience and some very well executed apps by a single person effort. For this reason, it becomes important for founders to educate themselves a bit about what makes their product more usable. Today, I want to talk about one of the most common fallacies of UX – Trying to make things faster by eliminating steps.

Don’t we hate apps that introduce a LOT of clicks during checkout? It may be for various reasons like confirming order details (qty, price etc), address and payment mode. In some cases there are steps induced for up-selling (Hey Godaddy!). And given that all of us have suffered terrible UX, we strive to make our own apps / products easier to use. Often by reducing steps. Read More

Heavy Computer User? Here’s 7 Ways To Fight Repetitive Strain Injury

Originally written in 2007, this article on RSI / CTS by Ankesh Kothari was first written on the site DumbLittleMan. Since the same is no longer on the web, this is being reproduced by me with permission from Ankesh. Video at the end wasn’t part of the original article. 

I first experienced RSI 3 years ago. Because I make my living online and have to sit at the computer 6 hours everyday, I couldn’t just take a long vacation and wait for my body to heal itself. I researched a lot and asked a lot of questions. With trial and error, I found some simple changes that could help decrease the risk of RSI.

What is RSI?

RSI is the dreaded abbreviation that stands for Repetitive Strain Injury. It occurs because of repeated physical movements and affects the nerves, tendons, muscles and other soft tissues. If you sit on your computer regularly, the repetition of thousands of keystrokes and prolonged use of the mouse can cause RSI to you too.

Symptoms of RSI

Most computer users experience tightness, stiffness or soreness of hands, wrists, fingers, forearms and shoulders. Many also experience burning sensations. It’s not life threatening but it’s very discomforting and painful. It can also prevent you from doing your work and enjoying your life.

Scary Fact: 10% of all computer users will suffer from RSI one time or another.

Scary Fact 2: Doctors can’t cure RSI. There is no magic pill that you can take which will make the RSI go away. RSI can only be cured by stopping the repetitive action that caused it in the first place. And even then, it may take weeks. Read More

Marketplaces Are Tricky, Flipkart Needs To Learn From eBay

With most e-commerce players in India moving towards a marketplace model, I have been intrigued as to why (Baazee) isn’t the talking point when it comes to e-commerce. They are THE marketplace, they have their own payment gateway since ages and I know first hand that they have done a ton of leg work to get good resellers on board, educating the ecosystem, finesse the dispute resolution process and get an huge variety of inventory online. It is very tough for marketplaces to standardize the supply and give the consumers a good experience!

Here are a few recent incidents with Flipkart. Note: I have high hopes from FK, but not at all from Snapdeal, do see this as an optimistic feedback. I am not even bothering writing about Snapdeal, my only purchase from them was a bad experience and I have heard many negative reviews and hence Flipkart gets my attention & criticism. 

Incident 1: I purchased a Age of Mythology game from Flipkart recently and got the product via a reseller in Delhi. The packing was ordinary (I have been spoilt by WS Retail’s shipping) and I had a faint doubt if the game is pirated. It worked, but I wasn’t 100% convinced. I am still not convinced, but I think it is a genuine game. However the distributor / importer & MRP sticker was missing from the pack I received and that makes me skeptical. I asked my friends on twitter and here are the tweets exchanged. For once, I am not 100% convinced on the quality.

Flipkart AOM


Incident 2: Read More

E-commerce In India. Hey Ram.

Let me start with a question, a bad experience shopping online… how many of you have been there? In early 2000 (guess around 2002) I was a confident online shopper. Bought a cool college bag (single strap was trendy) online for Rs 199 and paid COD. Bought a coke bottle and deodorant spray and paid Cheque-on-delivery. Awesome time that was. Fast forward, its been 10 years since I started shopping and selling online. Quite a journey. While I don’t sell anymore, I don’t buy either (exclude ticketing on Cleartrip). My fears of shopping online came out today, when a friend of my tweeted this out:

Ecommerce In India

Got cheated for the first time of shopping online. Not very difficult to guess who this Sequoia funded company is.

Explains why I am scared of shopping online. Not much because of such buyer experiences, more because I have been a seller! More on that in a bit.

India would have been a different e-commerce economy if since 2002 the awesomest safe shopping experience was preserved. But that din’t happen. We have far too many bad experiences around us. Lakhs of online shoppers cheated, left with poor service and no after sales. Don’t expect them to trust a new poster boy of e-commerce in India, no matter how good they are. For the Internet medium has failed them 🙁

Ecommerce Scams In India

8i Mobile with 3D Sensor. Free Watch. Rs 2,799. No points for guessing which what they are doing here

The poor experience may be with a iPhone shaped cheap Chinese mobile selling for Rs 2999 or a digital camera at a fraction cost. Or perhaps just late shipment. And by late I mean several weeks. Add to that non responsive customer support. I have been a vendor on the old biggies of India’s Internet story. They were (probably still are) a heaven for sellers selling cheap goods with no service. They knew the CS was seller oriented. And we are not even talking about their email service users getting spammed like crazy with ecommerce ads. Forget privacy and spamming, the basic goods and service weren’t delivered properly. And the reason was not poor logistics in our country.

For a short term gain, quick profit, they have ruined the internet buying experience for perhaps millions of Indians. And now the fire is being re-ignited with deals, loss making ventures, but wait. A fraud again? Poor service? Just do a google for a few popular sites selling stuff and you will see complaint boards still filled with sad tales. I admire the ones like Baazee (now eBay) who maintained a good CS, disputes would happen there, but dispute resolution was effective. I respect the newer ones who are on social media, talking to their customers, resolving issues and delivering on time. But how do you undo the damage that the dinosaurs of Internet in India have caused? How do you weed out the multi-million-funded-donkeys-dressed-as-horses?

Note: Some thoughts as I now remember, are recalled from my Quora answer on “What are the biggest challenges facing eCommerce sites in India?”

Welcome Junglee, You Got Work To Do

Junglee - Amazon India

This morning I wake up with yet another ecommerce launch and this is the much hyped entry of Amazon in India. People may like, hate or justify the current model that Junglee (Amazon) has adopted and we can all speculate on what would the future be. But as a consumer, a retailer and a user of these same ecommerce sites since over 10 years, I am saddened to see that Amazon makes a mistake that the Indian ecommerce scene has long forgotten.

The very first mobile listed on, a Samsung Galaxy SII is priced at Rs 28,400 on the homepage. A quote lower than what Pricebaba shows for Mumbai and given that most reputed sites are listing the SII for over Rs 30,000, this is a fantastic offer. But wait, click on the thumbnail, and then click again on the seller information page of the lowest bidder and you shall see this

Junglee Transaction

… and if you clicked Visit Seller Store instead, you will notice this only on the checkout page of a site that is at best, Web 1.0.

Charging shipping extra is fine. Charging extra for credit card transaction is ok. But after several clicks quoting me Rs 1998 as Tax is not. Lucrative advertising with hidden charges is a practice most e-retail players gave up sometime back. Amazon has work in hand to curate the experience I get on Junglee. The ‘we are a platform’ wordings hasn’t worked for eBay as an excuse to compete with the ones who are really delivering a good experience, there is no reason Junglee would be an exception!

Welcome Junglee, You Have Work To Do! 

Disclaimer: Pricebaba is my venture.

Why This Halla #iFeelUp

A few weeks back I received an email from TheViewsPaper inviting me to be a panelist for a Tweet-a-thon (hashtagged #IFeelup). The formatting of the email and less than 5 secs of reading was enough to tell me that this isn’t for me. It was at best a mass emailer sent to hundreds of people and I was clear that I wouldn’t get involved.

For me, there might be plenty of fundamental reasons for not getting involved, but probably my friends on twitter put it right – a name that I haven’t heard about invites me, I am wary by default (honestly I have probably heard the name Theviewspaper once before). But fast forward a few days after the tweet-a-thon is over, I see hate is in the air. The same folks probably who went about trending #ifeelup are offended. The Tweet-a-thon was a 7up promotion.

The best part: the first email inviting to be a participant didn’t mention 7UP, the second one which was unread till date mentioned 7UP. But people actually fell for this? Trended the hashtag and now crying foul? Are the ones who suffered the overdose of 6600 tweets really bothered? For the real consumers, this is probably just another disturbance in their timeline. Markeeters fighting Markeeters!

Ifeelup Tweet-a-thon by Theviewspaper

Dear Technoholik, Where Is The Link?


Today morning while I was searching for some news on the Samsung Nexus Prime, I came across over a dozen sites who have covered the news of Nexus Primes UAprof being leaked on Samsungmobile’s website. One of the results on the first page was from an Indian site and I clicked through. As I read through this article on Technoholik, I notice something weird. They haven’t given any credit to either PocketNow or elsewhere for this story. PocketNow being the one who broke the story originally.

And that’s not all. One may argue (would be stupid though) that the link on Samsung Mobile was publicly accessible and thus demands no source credit, but what acts as a final nail on the coffin if the fact that the image used for the story  on Technoholik is stolen from AndroidOS. As I tweeted about Technoholik failing to cite a source for a story they broke, Gaurav of noted that the image in use belongs to him. See it for yourself – AndroidOS vs TechnoholikRead More

Lessons In Customer Service

HDFC Twitter

On a day when I find myself defending two companies who have me as a client since years, I find it so obvious to share this simple lesson on customer service. In any industry it isn’t possible to give 100% satisfaction, something ought to go wrong sometime, somewhere. Specially if you are a bank or a hosting service dealing with large no of users. So I find these two gentlemen one after the other, complaining about their experience with HDFC and Hostgator respectively.

Both HDFC and Hostgator are service providers whom I have been very satisfied with (In fact this site is hosted on Hostgator since inception).  When I saw the first tweet from Ashutosh about HDFC asking for a photo identity for a simple work, I replied and defended HDFC. My defense was partly from my experience and largely in good faith. HDFC has been good to me, not perfect, but generally very good. And I jumped to defend them. Pause.

Take 2. Read More